Dental implants give you an excellent way to fix your smile — the results ensure that no one knows your teeth aren’t completely natural. However, it can be daunting to have to undergo any dental procedure, let alone a complicated one. If you’re a little nervous about what’s in store for you, it helps to have an idea of how the dental implant procedure will work.
This is an outpatient process over the course of several months where your damaged tooth will be replaced with a metal post, an abutment, and then finally an artificial tooth. Your particular procedure may vary based on the health of your jaw. Before starting any work, the dentist will need to ensure that your jawbone can handle the pressure during the surgery. If it’s not ready, you may need to undergo bone grafting to strengthen your jaw.
WHAT IS BONE GRAFTING?
Dentists are looking for jaw thickness and strength before placing an implant inside the bone. It’s easy for your jaw to become weak simply by doing everyday things like chewing. Should you need major bone grafting, you can expect a piece of your bone to be taken from one part of your body and then transferred to the jaw. The bone may come from another part of the jaw or another part of the body such as the hip. Once the transplant is done, your jaw may take up to several months to heal. Minor grafting surgery can be done at the time of the surgery and requires no healing time. It may sound extreme, but it’s one of the easiest and safest ways to complete your smile.
The surgeon will first cut into your gum to allow access to your jawbone before placing the actual metal post. The post takes the place of the roots of your teeth, so it will go fairly deep into the bone (that’s why the bone needs to be strong to support the metal.) Once the bone has been drilled and the post has been inserted, you’ll need to wait for the bone to merge with the dental implant, which may take a few months. The post provides the right base for your new tooth, and the process the bone undergoes is similar to that of a real tooth growing in.
Once your jaw has grown accustomed to the implant, the dentist will then need to put an abutment into your mouth. This is a minor surgery that can be done with local anesthesia. The surgeon will again cut into your gum and then place the abutment inside. The tissue surrounding it will surround the abutment, but it will not cover it. Once this is done, you’ll need about another week or two before the tissue heals. After which, you can be fitted for the artificial tooth. The dentist will use impressions of your current teeth to make a crown that will fit perfectly.